Making the Grade: On the Road to Roanoke, Alabama

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PHOTOS BY MIKE WALLACE

BY Stacey
Patton Wallace

Awhile back, Mike and I traveled to Roanoke, Alabama, for two reasons: 1. to visit his sister and brother’s graves and 2. to eat at Gedney’s Restaurant & Grill, a wonderful place where we enjoy dining.

Mike’s parents, Ralph and Eva Wallace, were wonderful Christian people who raised my husband to be the best man I have ever known. Sadly, Mike was their fifth and only child, who lived to adulthood. Mr. and Mrs. Wallace lost two children, Paula and Gary, shortly after they were born, and Mrs. Wallace had two miscarriages between them.

  In 1967, when Mike was in second grade, his parents tried to adopt a little boy named Van, who was a kindergartner. Mike told me that he really enjoyed having a little brother. Mike and his parents grew to love Van, and the little boy loved his new, stable family. Van lived with them for six months.

  Unfortunately, in those days, adoptive parents had no legal rights. Van’s mother had lost him because she was a drug addict. However, she briefly became sober, and the court gave Van back to her, devastating the Wallaces. The mother began doing drugs once more, and Mike’s parents were told that they could try to adopt Van again, but they declined because one heartbreak was sufficient.

  Mike and I married fairly late in life, so we weren’t blessed with children. However, my heart hurts for his parents because I could never imagine the enormous pain of losing five children. Because of their loss, they loved and cherished Mike.

  I didn’t know Mr. and Mrs. Wallace very well. We married after they had gone on to be with the Lord. I really wish I could have known them; I know I would have loved them dearly. In fact, I’ve looked at their picture on our fireplace and thanked them for giving me such an amazing husband.

  Mike’s Mama was from Roanoke, and his parents lived there from 1946-58; therefore, we went to visit his older siblings’ graves. Earlier in our marriage, Mike and I went to Roanoke to the Rock Springs Congregational Christian Church Cemetery, where his maternal grandparents were buried so that we could place flowers on their grave. This old country church was south of NOWHERE. In fact, Big Foot would have found it too remote. Also, it was late afternoon, just a little before sun down.

  Now, I am a “Pooh-sized” coward, so I informed my husband that it was time to leave. No way was I going to be in a cemetery at night. As a Christian, I know that the souls of the people buried there had departed, but I wasn’t taking any chances that a hand might come out of the earth and grab me by the ankle. I know; too many horror movies growing up.

  When we arrived at Gedney’s Restaurant & Grill at 4753 US-431 in Roanoke, we once again loved the homey, rural atmosphere. On the way to the ladies’ room, I saw a cute little girl. I said, “Hi, Cutie.” Her Daddy said, “Hi. How are you?” which made me laugh. I told him he was a cutie, too. I do so love living back home in Alabama. Our people are just the BEST.

  Kelley, our waitress, was the epitome of the perfect Southern waitress. She was sweet, kind and friendly.

  I loved the Bible verses on the menu; only in the South, folks. Also, Gedney’s earned extra points for serving Diet Dr. Pepper, my very favorite drink. Kelley brought me a big, 16.9-ounce bottle. As I’ve said before, I’m glad my doctor and dentist couldn’t see me.

  Mike ordered the Boneless Honey Barbecue Wings. Sweet Kelley gave him extra wings because she thought they were small. Mike said the wings were really tasty.

  I chose the Southwest Grilled Chicken, which had a zesty sauce, mushrooms, grilled onions and peppers. It came with REAL homemade French fries (the best kind) and grilled veggies. Everything was delicious. Gedney’s advertises on their menu that they have the “best steaks and catfish in town.” We’ll have to try them next time.

  Gedney’s Restaurant & Grill has an extensive menu. Believe me, they have something for EVEVERYONE. They have a great selection of appetizers, or as they call them, “Saddle Up.” Some of them include: Aussie Onion, Corn Nuggets, Jalapenos & Monterey Jack Texas Cheese Fries and Southwest Chicken Quesadilla Wraps.

  In “Grazing the Trail,” diners may choose from a large selection of Salads, Soup and Chili. They also have 22 different Hamburgers and Sandwiches for you to enjoy. Gedney’s “Wagon Wheel Classics” include delicious baby back ribs, hamburger steak, chicken dishes and wings.

  Diners may also choose  pasta and wraps. In addition, “From the Ranch,” offers a large variety of steaks. If you’re in the mood for  seafood, try “Lost at Sea,” which includes catfish, crab legs, shrimp, oysters, tilapia and scallops.

  Finally, “Finishing the Trail,” has a mouthwatering selection of desserts. When my A1C (blood sugar average) drops to a respectable level, I plan to jump on their hot fudge cake. Oh, my two times. It looked so delicious, I almost licked the menu. Just kidding; my parents taught me better. Run, do not walk to Gedney’s if you travel to Roanoke; it’s worth the trip.

  Gedney’s Restaurant & Grill is open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed on Monday; Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. Mike, Darlin,’ this one was for you. Love you bunches.

  Gedney’s Restaurant & Grill makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-Sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!

    Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in the Observer. Stacey may be reached at retiredlangartsteacher2020@gmail.com

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